Reuters says Myanmar held journalists for probing Rohingya massacre

Feb 10, 2018, 00:25
Reuters says Myanmar held journalists for probing Rohingya massacre

Myanmar's campaign against the Muslim Rohingya population in Rakhine state is far from over, Amnesty International said on Wednesday.

Bound together, the 10 captives watched their Buddhist neighbours dig a shallow grave.

They offer evidence of a massacre believed to have taken place on the morning of 2 September previous year, after the arrival of troops in the village of Inn Din drove its Rohingya inhabitants to flee.

"At least two were hacked to death by Buddhist villagers". Reuters says the two men are innocent of wrongdoing and were arrested for doing their jobs, as "journalists who perform a crucial role in shedding light on issues of global interest".

The United States says a Reuters report about the massacre of Muslims previous year has highlighted the need for an independent and credible investigation into allegations of atrocities in northern Rakhine State.

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The account was based on testimony from Buddhist villagers, security officers and relatives of the slain men.

If there was "strong and reliable primary evidence" of abuses, the government would investigate, he said. The Myanmar government contends the Rohingya are essentially squatters, although the two communities have lived side by side for centuries.

More than 655,000 Rohingyas have crossed into Bangladesh since August 25, 2017, escaping a military crackdown in Rakhine state, which many countries and human rights bodies have described as ethnic cleansing. British Labour Party lawmaker Rosena Allin-Khan told BBC's Newsnight that the Reuters report was consistent with accounts she had heard while working as a doctor at Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh past year. "We thought it was time to go with it".

Human Rights Watch said Myanmar's military leaders should be held accountable in an worldwide court for alleged crimes against the Rohingya population. "Their only crime was to take an interest in the atrocities by Myanmar's security forces against the country's Rohingya minority, which resulted in an exodus of around 700,000 refugees", Daniel Bastard, head of Reporters Without Borders' Asia-Pacific desk, told The Washington Post via email.

Campaign group Fortify Rights also called for an independent investigation.

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In what worldwide observers including the United Nations have said amounts to ethnic cleansing, the Myanmar military and militias have since driven out hundreds of thousands of the country's Rohingya minority in a campaign of killings, burning and rape.

Adler has said public pressure on the Myanmar government was needed to ensure the two journalists were spared a long prison sentence.

In a statement released on January 10, the Tatmadaw acknowledged that 10 Rohingya men were massacred at Inn Din and claimed they were among a group of 200 "terrorists" who attacked the village.

The reporters are charged with violating an arcane and rarely invoked law known as the Official Secrets Act, which dates from colonial British rule.

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